log in or register to remove this ad

 

5E Assumptions about character creation


log in or register to remove this ad

pming

Adventurer
I don't belive there was any such rule in 1e. I believe it was a common house rule, and that it was in at least one version of basic, but pretty sure it never appeared in 1e.
Hiya!

Oh, I wasn't saying the reason was because "skill checks were made with stats", I guess I wasn't clear enough. What I was trying to get across, was that a PC's Stats, IF they came into play, was often used as a means of determining the PC's "chance to do something". That's all. Barring "stat checks" to determine success/failure of some task, well, in 1e, ability scores also often never gave any tangible bonus until you got a 15. A 14 Str gave you no bonus to hit or damage, a 14 Dexterity...zip. Constitution of 14? How about +0 to your HD rolls for HP.

So, having a character with ALL 15's...

STR: Dmg, +0, To Hit +0
DEX: -1 bonus to AC
CON: +1hp / HD (up to about 9HD, depending on class)
INT: Max of 4 extra languages
WIS: +1 Saves vs. magic (mental) attacks
CHA: 7 Henchmen max, +15% Loyalty, +15% NPC Reaction adjustment

That was it, really. (INT and WIS had some things for Magic-Users and Clerics)

The point being... saying "a PC without at least two 15's sucks" is a VERY different thing than what it would mean in 5e. :)

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

EzekielRaiden

Adventurer
Probably, but I'm only speaking for myself here. And yes super characters do exist, but it strains my suspension of disbelief that all characters happen to be statistical outliers. It also makes for a worse experience to me, because it starts to signal that this fantasy world that would be escapist can only be populated by born winners.
Did you know that almost everyone is a statistical outlier in at least one respect or another? Lt. Gilbert S. Daniels' seminal work, "The Average Man?", demonstrated that if you took just three metrics of measurement (out of over a hundred total), often less than 4% of the study population (over 4000 airmen) would meet all three metrics? Truly average humans basically don't exist--or are fantastically rare. "Average" is a terribly, terribly narrow range, and very few people actually fit into it. Most will be divergent in one way or another, and some will be highly divergent in at least one way. But we'll come back to that in a sec.

You can get a feel for the lack of averageness in most people with some straightforward math. Let's say that the middle two thirds of any group, on any single metric, count as "average." This is a very generous definition of "average," one that would almost certainly include people who you'd consider "too charismatic" etc. But even this generous definition will quickly exclude too many people.

Let's say we start with the ability scores--six metrics. And we'll start with a nice, round population of 10,000 people. That means people who are "average" on all six ability scores would be (2/3)^6, or about 8.78% of the overall population. So even though we started with over 10k people, we only have 878 remaining after filtering for ability score averageness. But that then means that the remainder--or over 91%--are decidedly not-average in at least one metric. Now, to be fair, a portion of them are going to be below average rather than above on at least one thing...but you can still absolutely DO that, too (and most people do, it's wasteful to try for too many high scores).

And that character with straight 18s, I wonder how he/she manages to be flawed when it is in the 1% most wise, likeable and smart. I know probably not perfect and not being the best at everything. But being above average at something is not a flaw. Not being perfect is not a flaw. Being actually bad at something is a flaw. Or at the very least a meaningful flaw, that has actual effects. I'm sorry, but to me it feels like cheating roleplaying a flaw that isn't actually there.
"Likeable" isn't a statistic in D&D; "charismatic" is. Someone can be highly charismatic and deeply un-likeable. A schoolyard bully who can keep their victims silent about it even when they're not around? That's a (darkly) charismatic figure, someone whose force of personality is significant even if their likeability is crap. (And, conversely, someone can be extremely genial and well-liked, but hardly make any real impression on anyone they ever meet--pleasant, but not compelling, as it were.)

Beyond that? Adventurers are already weirdos in the context of D&D. They're people who abandon (relatively) safe, mundane lives. A Paladin could quite easily become a trainer of future paladins, a knight in a king's guard, or even just a highly skilled monastic. A Wizard is abandoning a cushy job as someone's magical advisor, or a researcher into transmutational wonders, in order to...dive into terrible murder-holes for the promise of power and resources or maybe to resolve the problems of people they empathize with slightly faster than what the duchess' armies could do. These are not "ordinary" folk. Moreover, one would expect that the natural selection pressures of such an environment--where death may lurk behind every corner and luck is an ever-present factor in survival--would weed out those who aren't exceptional in at least some way. Sure, you could simply be exceptionally lucky. Or you could have an exceptional talent you haven't been able to display yet, or which has never been truly tested until now.

"Flaws" are not game statistics. Game statistics simply give you percentage chances of success on things. Flaws are almost always much better-handled as behavioral traits, conditions of thought or action that lead a character in unsound directions. A Wizard who is absolutely certain that once he's made a "calculation," it's right? She is flawed, because she can't self-evaluate and change her mind. A Paladin who suspects every shadow of harboring heretics or demons, who grills his party for moral purity at every step? He is flawed, because he does not understand the difference between faith and fanaticism, nor that respect must be earned, not demanded. A Fighter who's seen a tour of duty, and sourly makes bets on which of the new recruits will survive the week, while laughing in the face of a commanding officer noting a reduction in engagements? They're loaded with cynicism, unable to accept that the world isn't inherently awful nor inherently wonderful, it's just a place where things happen, and dramatic events rarely linger all that long.

If you need game statistics to give you flaws, I would suggest considering the above: ways to make characters that have real, serious flaws in their processes of decision making, or their ability to understand the things they see not in the sense of mental acuity but in the sense of openness to evidence regardless of personal belief, or their ability to heed the ideas and concerns of others, or their capacity for empathy and socialization. It is entirely, 100% possible to have a deeply, deeply flawed character who has exclusively 18s in every stat--in fact, there's even at least two unique flaws that only such a character can have.

The first is like DCAU Superman: the flawed paragon who simply does not respect others as equals, because he fundamentally KNOWS he is stronger, faster, and damn-near infinitely more durable than anyone else. Supes doesn't trust others to get dangerous jobs done, because he genuinely believes it is better for him to take all the risks. His own heroic instinct to stop bad things from happening to people weaker than himself trips him up and makes him unable to really be a proper team player. The second is almost the opposite side of the same coin: a lack of empathy for the struggles of others, bordering on the sociopathic. That is, if someone really is "talented" at everything, it's going to be a lot harder for them to empathize with someone who had to struggle through life, which is basically all people at some point or another. Having that huge gulf of experience--where, for them, everything is "just do better 4head," as the hip kids say these days (or so I'm told)--will alienate them from other mortal-kind, and either leave them feeling isolated and weird (unlikely, but plausible) or feeling superior and dismissive (a lot more likely, simply because they're winners, and winning feels good/right/powerful/etc.)

Further, even with all these high scores, it's not like failure is not an option. A DC 15 check at level 1, even with an 18 in the relevant stat and proficiency, is still d20+6, meaning you fail on a roll of 8 or less. That's a 40% failure rate on a supposedly "medium" task. On a supposedly "easy" task without proficiency, you'd be looking at d20+4 vs 10, a 30% failure rate. I dunno about you, but I wouldn't call those odds all that impressive! Just about the only thing you can't fail at is a Very Easy (DC 5) check...which, well, being able to consistently do something the game explicitly describes as "very easy" doesn't exactly sound like proof of being "flawless." Even if you had something with double proficiency and the character in question has advanced all scores to 20 and you're at a +6 proficiency bonus, you're looking at d20+16. That's still a 15% chance to fail a merely Hard check (40% for Very Hard, 65% for Nearly Impossible).

So. Having good scores doesn't mean you never fail. In fact, the difference between a +2 score and a +4 score is literally only ten percentage points--and couldn't possibly more than double your chances of success (and almost certainly do far less than that). Further, "having good scores" and "being a flawed character" are entirely orthogonal--a character is not inherently more flawed simply for not having good scores, and a character need not have an absence of flaws simply for having good scores, you have to actually write/play the character as having flaws either way. And all this talk about non-averageness is rather specious when very few people are truly average, and most characters are weird by the standard of the society they live in anyway!
 
Last edited:


Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
So, there is a SOLUTION, invented ON THE ENWORLD FORUMS

I give you, the Redrick roller!



I re-order the scores, but it's much more fun than the standard array IMO.

You roll and you get a "balanced" array (so no 18 18 16 17 15 14 characters...)
 

I'm of the opinion that the standard point buy or array could stand to be more generous in terms of breadth.

You probably don't want anyone starting higher than 15, but I think the game tends to be a bit better with someting like 15,15,14,13,12,9.

PCs have a bit more freedom this way to put a decent score into an ability their class doesn't really need - (Like say Intelligence or Strength).
 

Of course if you want a fairly balanced way to roll up characters you could try something like this. roll 6 d6 and label the results, a,b,c,d,e,f

Then generate ability scores as follows. (The highest score this can generate is 17 and the lowest 7).
12 + A – B
12 + B – C
12 + C – D
12 + D – E
12 + E – F
12 + F – A

The total avearge for all scores is very slightly less than the average of 4d6 drop lowest but all pcs will have the same total of points (in absolute - not necessarily point buy terms). The problem with this - like always with rolling - is you may end up with a bland character with all 11-13s.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
He would likely agree with you that it works fine without that bonus. He was just answering a question about what the math was based on in design. And you have two options in design: either you know how the math works out, or you don't. I'm very glad that the D&D designers actually paid attention to how it works out, even if I'm not really sure what all is going on with this particular math.
Sure, that's very fair. The game is better designed from a math standpoint than a lot of people want to give it credit for.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
In 4E there was a pretty explicit treadmill of expectations of what level of magic you would have by certain levels (before that I'm not sure they did any math). With 5E they assume basically no magic and expect the DM to adjust the game to match whatever threat level their group enjoyed.

That does mean that for a 6 PC table that can get a long rest whenever they want, glowing with magic and above average ability scores, 5E will be "easy" if mods are not adjusted. It's all about DM empowerment and the expectation that the DM is the best person to decide what makes sense.

So the game works just fine whether you use point buy, a generous rolling generation method that assures everybody is above average or 3d6 in order. It just means that the DM needs to take some initiative and responsibility to adjust the game to achieve the play experience the group wants.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Did you know that almost everyone is a statistical outlier in at least one respect or another? Lt. Gilbert S. Daniels' seminal work, "The Average Man?", demonstrated that if you took just three metrics of measurement (out of over a hundred total), often less than 4% of the study population (over 4000 airmen) would meet all three metrics? Truly average humans basically don't exist--or are fantastically rare. "Average" is a terribly, terribly narrow range, and very few people actually fit into it. Most will be divergent in one way or another, and some will be highly divergent in at least one way. But we'll come back to that in a sec.

You can get a feel for the lack of averageness in most people with some straightforward math. Let's say that the middle two thirds of any group, on any single metric, count as "average." This is a very generous definition of "average," one that would almost certainly include people who you'd consider "too charismatic" etc. But even this generous definition will quickly exclude too many people.

Let's say we start with the ability scores--six metrics. And we'll start with a nice, round population of 10,000 people. That means people who are "average" on all six ability scores would be (2/3)^6, or about 8.78% of the overall population. So even though we started with over 10k people, we only have 878 remaining after filtering for ability score averageness. But that then means that the remainder--or over 91%--are decidedly not-average in at least one metric. Now, to be fair, a portion of them are going to be below average rather than above on at least one thing...but you can still absolutely DO that, too (and most people do).


"Likeable" isn't a statistic in D&D; "charismatic" is. Someone can be highly charismatic and deeply un-likeable. A schoolyard bully who can keep their victims silent about it even when they're not around? That's a (darkly) charismatic figure, someone whose force of personality is significant even if their likeability is crap. (And, conversely, someone can be extremely genial and well-liked, but hardly make any real impression on anyone they ever meet--pleasant, but not compelling, as it were.)

Beyond that? Adventurers are already weirdos in the context of D&D. They're people who abandon (relatively) safe, mundane lives. A Paladin could quite easily become a trainer of future paladins, a knight in a king's guard, or even just a highly skilled monastic. A Wizard is abandoning a cushy job as someone's magical advisor, or a researcher into transmutational wonders, in order to...dive into terrible murder-holes for the promise of power and resources or maybe to resolve the problems of people they empathize with slightly faster than what the duchess' armies could do. These are not "ordinary" folk. Moreover, one would expect that the natural selection pressures of such an environment--where death may lurk behind every corner and luck is an ever-present factor in survival--would weed out those who aren't exceptional in at least some way. Sure, you could simply be exceptionally lucky. Or you could have an exceptional talent you haven't been able to display yet, or which has never been truly tested until now.

"Flaws" are not game statistics. Game statistics simply give you percentage chances of success on things. Flaws are almost always much better-handled as behavioral traits, conditions of thought or action that lead a character in unsound directions. A Wizard who is absolutely certain that once he's made a "calculation," it's right? She is flawed, because she can't self-evaluate and change her mind. A Paladin who suspects every shadow of harboring heretics or demons, who grills his party for moral purity at every step? He is flawed, because he does not understand the difference between faith and fanaticism, nor that respect must be earned, not demanded. A Fighter who's seen a tour of duty, and sourly makes bets on which of the new recruits will survive the week, while laughing in the face of a commanding officer noting a reduction in engagements? They're loaded with cynicism, unable to accept that the world isn't inherently awful nor inherently wonderful, it's just a place where things happen, and dramatic events rarely linger all that long.

If you need game statistics to give you flaws, I would suggest considering the above: ways to make characters that have real, serious flaws in their processes of decision making, or their ability to understand the things they see not in the sense of mental acuity but in the sense of openness to evidence regardless of personal belief, or their ability to heed the ideas and concerns of others, or their capacity for empathy and socialization. It is entirely, 100% possible to have a deeply, deeply flawed character who has exclusively 18s in every stat--in fact, there's even at least two unique flaws that only such a character can have.

The first is like DCAU Superman: the flawed paragon who simply does not respect others as equals, because he fundamentally KNOWS he is stronger, faster, and damn-near infinitely more durable than anyone else. Supes doesn't trust others to get dangerous jobs done, because he genuinely believes it is better for him to take all the risks. His own heroic instinct to stop bad things from happening to people weaker than himself trips him up and makes him unable to really be a proper team player. The second is almost the opposite side of the same coin: a lack of empathy for the struggles of others, bordering on the sociopathic. That is, if someone really is "talented" at everything, it's going to be a lot harder for them to empathize with someone who had to struggle through life, which is basically all people at some point or another. Having that huge gulf of experience--where, for them, everything is "just do better 4head," as the hip kids say these days (or so I'm told)--will alienate them from other mortal-kind, and either leave them feeling isolated and weird (unlikely, but plausible) or feeling superior and dismissive (a lot more likely, simply because they're winners, and winning feels good/right/powerful/etc.)

Further, even with all these high scores, it's not like failure is not an option. A DC 15 check at level 1, even with an 18 in the relevant stat and proficiency, is still d20+6, meaning you fail on a roll of 8 or less. That's a 40% failure rate on a supposedly "medium" task. On a supposedly "easy" task without proficiency, you'd be looking at d20+4 vs 10, a 30% failure rate. I dunno about you, but I wouldn't call those odds all that impressive! Just about the only thing you can't fail at is a Very Easy (DC 5) check...which, well, being able to consistently do something the game explicitly describes as "very easy" doesn't exactly sound like proof of being "flawless." Even if you had something with double proficiency and the character in question has advanced all scores to 20 and you're at a +6 proficiency bonus, you're looking at d20+16. That's still a 15% chance to fail a merely Hard check (40% for Very Hard, 65% for Nearly Impossible).

So. Having good scores doesn't mean you never fail. In fact, the difference between a +2 score and a +4 score is literally only ten percentage points--and couldn't possibly more than double your chances of success (and almost certainly do far less than that). Further, "having good scores" and "being a flawed character" are entirely orthogonal--a character is not inherently more flawed simply for not having good scores, and a character need not have an absence of flaws simply for having good scores, you have to actually write/play the character as having flaws either way. And all this talk about non-averageness is rather specious when very few people are truly average, and most
Thank you very much for this.

I've said it before in the other thread about Jeremy confirming Tasha's lets players now arrange their racial modifiers any way they want-- game mechanics (and especially ability scores) are a horrible way of "defining" who your character is.

All elves no longer all have a +2 in DEX due to racial modifiers. Many won't. But then again... many elves who even did have a +2 to DEX due to racial modifiers had statistically lower dexterities than other characters in a typical party, so the elf the players in the group was seeing was not always the most graceful creature around (despite people saying that elves should be graceful and agile which is why they felt the +2 DEX bonus had to be there in the book).

Plus... even if you DID have a higher DEX than other PCs... your +3 or +4 modifier STILL had to have a 20-point swing added to it from the d20... assuring that more often than not your so-called "graceful elf" still would look like a bumbling fool at the table via the game mechanics.

By the same token... you want to make your PC an actual bumbler by putting a 6 into their DEX? Guess what? You do that... thinking "I'm going to play a character that will walk into walls and fall down stairs!"... unless you actually roleplay that stuff (which is and always will be the best way to get across your character's flaws)... chances are you're going to avoid doing things that involve DEX checks, and even when you do... THAT will be the time that you roll a fricking '20'. So you discover then and there that relying on the game mechanics to play your flaws for you doesn't actually work.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
There's a reason why we hear all this talk about the ubiquity about INT as a dump stat. Because everybody has realized that because they don't actually ROLEPLAY their characters as dumb posts (except on the rarest of occasions in order to throw their 8 modifier a bone)... having a low INT for their character is meaningless. They as players still all use their own natural intellect to make good tactical decisions, contribute usefully to plans the group tries to put together, help out on puzzles etc., when it truly counts and is important to the group. Almost no one sabotages their group by deliberately making poor suggestions all in the name of "playing their character" and its dump stat INT. As a result, the game mechanics do almost nothing to actually define the character, because the player doesn't truly buy in and roleplay it.

So all this crosstalk on the game mechanics needing to exist to define who your PC is... I think is a whole lot of nothing.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
There's a reason why we hear all this talk about the ubiquity about INT as a dump stat. Because everybody has realized that because they don't actually ROLEPLAY their characters as dumb posts (except on the rarest of occasions in order to throw their 8 modifier a bone)... having a low INT for their character is meaningless. They as players still all use their own natural intellect to make good tactical decisions, contribute usefully to plans the group tries to put together, help out on puzzles etc., when it truly counts and is important to the group. Almost no one sabotages their group by deliberately making poor suggestions all in the name of "playing their character" and its dump stat INT. As a result, the game mechanics do almost nothing to actually define the character, because the player doesn't truly buy in and roleplay it.

So all this crosstalk on the game mechanics needing to exist to define who your PC is... I think is a whole lot of nothing.
To a certain degree player ability will always be a factor. However, I do think how much PC abilities matter will vary from game to game. Some people never want to touch the dice when overcoming obstacles outside of combat, I try to do a balance and make sure that abilities and proficiencies make a difference on a regular basis. See Role of the Dice in the DMG.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
All elves no longer all have a +2 in DEX due to racial modifiers. Many won't. But then again... many elves who even did have a +2 to DEX due to racial modifiers had statistically lower dexterities than other characters in a typical party, so the elf the players in the group was seeing was not always the most graceful creature around (despite people saying that elves should be graceful and agile which is why they felt the +2 DEX bonus had to be there in the book).
The bolded statements are not equivalent. All it takes to be graceful is to hit a 12. Once you are getting a bonus, you are graceful, which is all that the elven race is claimed to be. The elf can be graceful, yet not the most graceful in the group. Individual elves can fail to be graceful, though there will be fewer of them than in races without a +2 bonus. Nobody is saying that elves should all be the most graceful creatures around and that's why they should get the +2. We're saying that as a race, the average elven dex is graceful, which the +2 provides.
 

cmad1977

Hero
Yep, the imbalance in Crit Role PC stats is incredible (or, at least, in the second campaign, which is the only one I've watched). But, the players don't play to their PCs' stats, seemingly completely unconcerned about the massive disconnect between the statistical characteristics of their characters and their in-game behaviour. It works for them. YMMV

They play characters and not builds.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
There's a reason why we hear all this talk about the ubiquity about INT as a dump stat. Because everybody has realized that because they don't actually ROLEPLAY their characters as dumb posts (except on the rarest of occasions in order to throw their 8 modifier a bone)... having a low INT for their character is meaningless. They as players still all use their own natural intellect to make good tactical decisions, contribute usefully to plans the group tries to put together, help out on puzzles etc., when it truly counts and is important to the group. Almost no one sabotages their group by deliberately making poor suggestions all in the name of "playing their character" and its dump stat INT. As a result, the game mechanics do almost nothing to actually define the character, because the player doesn't truly buy in and roleplay it.

So all this crosstalk on the game mechanics needing to exist to define who your PC is... I think is a whole lot of nothing.
I give out roleplaying XP bonuses at the end of the session. Someone who has a low int score and isn't roleplaying it consistently is going to see that bonus drop pretty substantially. I expect my players to roleplay to the best of their ability. They don't have to be actor level good, but they have to at least be trying to RP their stats. My players don't dump int unless it's for a character concept that they want to roleplay.
 


jmartkdr2

Adventurer
The average of 4d6 drop lowest is 12.24. The average on the standard array is 12.

Which means that the difference between them, on average, is within rounding error. So, maybe we should not position this as a major issue.
I think the biggest meaningful difference is the fact that 4d6 keep 3 has pretty good odds of giving you a 16 (about 50% chance of at least 1 16 or better IIRC)

- which means "starting at a +3 mod" is a reasonable expectation in a rolled game regardless of character race (if you're the sort of person who has an expectation), which would be an argument that any race/class combinaton is intended to be 'viable' (if you care about that sort of thing)

- and, which could even be raised to an 18 after racials. If you're the sort of person who notices stats, you will definitely notice that.

To me, at least, these aren't really pros or cons - but it could and does matter to some people.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I think the biggest meaningful difference is the fact that 4d6 keep 3 has pretty good odds of giving you a 16 (about 50% chance of at least 1 16 or better IIRC)

- which means "starting at a +3 mod" is a reasonable expectation in a rolled game regardless of character race (if you're the sort of person who has an expectation), which would be an argument that any race/class combinaton is intended to be 'viable' (if you care about that sort of thing)

- and, which could even be raised to an 18 after racials. If you're the sort of person who notices stats, you will definitely notice that.

To me, at least, these aren't really pros or cons - but it could and does matter to some people.

If you want to look at the odds, this sight is one reference. I don't see a point in getting into detail, but I really hate rolling for stats and pretty much always have. I've been at tables where one person had multiple 18s, lowest score a 14 while another had a single high of 14, a single 10 and everything else below. Both people were dissatisfied with the result.

In any case it's just a difference of approach. I see no value in randomized values (other than to ensure that some PCs have a statistical advantage over others) and I start with a vision of my PC, I don't want a 1 time random roll to decide what ability scores my character has that I hope to play for a year or more. Ability scores can, and with random rolls on average will, make a pretty huge difference in effectiveness of most PCs at their chosen role.

Fortunately we have the option to choose whichever method you prefer.
 

We used to use the standard array but now all player roll 4d6 once (both of my groups have 6 players). Then all players take the results for their characters. This gives 6 stats that all players will share. No one is above or below the other. This method ensures that everyone is either happy or unhappy with the rolls. I added that I secretly roll 4d6 and let the players decide to randomly pick one of their roll to switch with mine. They can remove their highest roll from the pick so they feel that they can "remove" a bad stat. Sometimes, it is a win for them, sometimes it is a loss. I think my players have gambling problems...
 

Azzy

Newtype
The average of 4d6 drop lowest is 12.24.
Yes, on any given roll of a single 4d6 roll. When rolled in batches of sixes (4d6 for each ability score), the results will tend to deviate from the mean of a single roll.
1603897217643.png
 

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top